A peculiar obsession with Alfred Wallace continues to consume the neo-Luddite, neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).
As we pointed out almost two years ago in Discoveroids Adopt Alfred Wallace as Godfather, they have seized upon some writings by Wallace late in his life to claim him as their spiritual guru. The last time we posted about this phenomenon was Klinghoffer: “Alfred Wallace Is Ours!”
Like that post, the latest one at the Discoveroids’ blog is by David Klinghoffer, whose creationist oeuvre we last described here, and upon whom the Discoveroids have bestowed the exalted title of “senior fellow” — i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist.
Klinghoffer’s latest post about the Discoveroids’ mystical hero is The Thoroughly Modern Alfred Russel Wallace. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us and his links omitted:
At Victor Davis Hanson’s Private Papers, Terry Scrambray gives a nice review to our own Professor Michael Flannery’s two recent books [titles and links omitted].
Klinghoffer’s post refers to a review by Terry Scambray of Flannery’s Wallace biographies. After searching around a bit, we learned that Scambray teaches English at Fresno City College, a community college in Fresno, California. We searched their website and found him listed among their emeritus faculty personnel. Anyway, he’s not a scientist, nor is he an historian. In fairness to Scambray, not many biographies of Wallace are written, so Flannery’s work may be the only information about Wallace that he’s seen.
The Scambray article that Klinghoffer is writing about first appeared in Touchstone Magazine, a bimonthly publication of the Fellowship of St. James. It’s subtitled A Journal of Mere Christianity. Apparently to give Scambray’s article a less religious aura, the Discoveroids link only to a reprint at the website of Victor Davis Hanson. Okay, everything’s in context now, so let’s get back to Klinghoffer:
I’m struck by the way in Scambray’s telling, compared to Darwin, his co-discover of the theory evolution by natural selection, Wallace emerges as much the more modern of the two.
Modern? Wallace was a socialist, a mystic, and near the end of his life he wrote such confused stuff that it thrills the Discoveroids. It’s natural, we suppose, that they would consider him “modern.” As we’ve said before about Wallace:
His reputation suffered because of his devotion to spiritualism, unscientific fantasies, un-evidenced phantasms, and seances. We find no reference to it, but he probably used a Ouija board too. Our last post added to that catalog of oddities that Wallace was also a devotee of phrenology, an opponent of smallpox vaccination, a supporter of socialism, and an advocate of nationalizing large private landholdings.
Had Charles Darwin exhibited even one of those passions, the Discoveroids would never cease shouting it from the rooftops. But Wallace embraced them all, and the Discoveroids embrace Wallace. Why? Because along with all his other faults and unscientific delusions, he seems to have been groping toward a primitive version of the Discoveroids’ “theory” of intelligent design. So Wallace is their man!
Do I dare use the adjective “progressive”? Wallace was certainly that — in his socialism and in his rejection of the typical 19th-century racism that Darwin himself embodied. Beyond that, Wallace went on to reject key points in Darwinian theory in favor of a proto-intelligent design view:
Darwin embodied racism? No, not at all. That’s Discoveroid mythology (see Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin). Then Klinghoffer purports to quote from Scambray’s review of Flannery’s work, beginning with this:
Flannery makes a persuasive case that Wallace’s wide experiences and definitive scientific observations made him an early and convincing advocate of what is now called intelligent design.
Or, as we would put it, Wallace’s mind became increasingly unhinged late in life, to the point where the Discoveroids find it to be compatible with theirs. Let’s read one more quote from Scambray’s review:
Wallace, on the contrary, found that a materialist account of evolution could not explain the great discontinuities in nature, like the unbridgeable gap separating dead matter from life and the profound differences between plants and animals and the impassable chasm separating man from the rest of the animal kingdom, including man’s unique pursuit of love, beauty and truth.
Whoopie! Skipping a whole bunch of stuff, Klinghoffer wraps it all up with this:
Wallace saw forward into the future to the day when the purposes and goals of an “Overriding Intelligence” would be recognized in nature, while Darwin — and his followers down to the present — remain entrenched, imprisoned really, in a creaky and sclerotic 19th-century materialism.
Yes! Darwin remained bogged down in science, while Wallace moved ahead — into a bright new future of mumbo-jumbo and Oogity Boogity. It’s no wonder the Discoveroids admire him.
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